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Image copyright iStock Image caption Most new mothers find it difficult to cope with the demands of family life
In 2008 the government announced it was scrapping the unpaid workday for new mothers, known as the “motherhood penalty” due to the cost of caring for a young child.
It became known as the “motherhood premium”. At the time, it was estimated that around 6% of new mothers were spending more than 24 hours a week caring for a young child.
Women across the UK have protested against the loss of that extra work from their lives and in some cases, have gone on strike.
What is the issue?
The government said scrapping the workweek would save £1bn by 2050.
It was not long before concerns rose about the impact on the cost of caring for a young child – with some research suggesting that the loss could cost around £800m a year. There was also a debate about women’s work patterns.
However, the motherhood premium has been controversial due to the difficulties working mothers face:
It is a particularly difficult time for new mothers with increasing numbers of single mother houses
The number of new mothers who are in work but do not see their childcare obligations rise by two-thirds
The UK’s childcare system is often criticised for lack of availability or quality, making it difficult for many women at a time of economic uncertainty
Research shows that many new mothers feel the loss of parental leave and paid holidays.
Does this mean it is better off for mothers to be back at work earlier than they were?
The data does not suggest this.
We estimate the government estimate for early mums, which is based on a low-to-medium-skilled job, is about £20,000 less than that of the average new mother.
Does the loss of the motherhood premium also affect those who choose to take unpaid leave?
We do not have figures on this.
The question is the same, but it is often said that the rise in pay for non-paid work will drive women back to working later in life and this is a very important part of the women’s equality agenda: if women return earlier to work because of economic uncertainty, it undermines the equality of future generations.
Will the motherhood premium cause problems for the family?
Some argue that mothers tend to choose maternity care in a way that creates
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